Saturday, February 26, 2011

Published!

I'm excited! The book we've been waiting for arrived today!
It's a book many of you, I'm sure, would love to read and relate to on many levels.
A few years back, I wrote Laura's adoption story. Her adoption was not what we anticipated, and it held many challenges. But through those challenges, God was doing His mighty work in our lives, even though we weren't seeing it at the time. It's a story I wanted to share. Guideposts was looking for new stories, and I wrote it hoping to get it published. Her story wasn't chosen. But...
A short time later, I received an email looking for adoption stories that could possibly be published in a Christian book for families in all stages of adoption. So, I submitted the story and it was chosen! A few revisions needed to be made, basically just shortening it a bit, but most of it remained.
I received 2 copies today in the mail and it looks wonderful. It's full of stories, scripture, quotes, photos...
I can't wait to dive in and read it cover to cover.
The book is scheduled to be released in March, and I'm set up to host a
blog "book tour" on March 30.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Those Pearly Whites

I took 4 kids to the dentist today. Can I get an applause, please?
Laura did not accompany us this time.
Although we have an awesome pediatric dentist...Laura is one tough patient.
So, we're trying the "mobile dentistry team" that goes right to her school and works with the kids there. That means I don't have to hold the poor thing down while they clean and floss her teeth...while she flips her head from side to side, screams, tries to thrash her arms and legs, and, yes, bites the hygenist.
Yes...all that from my sweet, happy, quiet, content, little Laura.
But, I digress. Back to today...
Jacob was planning to have two teeth pulled. Luckily, his adult teeth have moved into proper position over the past 6 months, and the baby teeth didn't need to come out after all.
He was a little disappointed that he wasn't going home with two teeth (= money) and a chocolate shake.
I was happy to not have to pay for 2 extractions...oh, right...and that he didn't have to go through the ordeal of having teeth pulled. :)
More good news...
No cavities...well, except Miss Jenna since this is probably the first time she's ever seen a dentist.
But only 3 little ones, and those will be filled later with the help of "happy gas."
Maybe I can get some, too.
She didn't like getting her teeth cleaned.
Poor thing doesn't like the taste of regular toothpaste, let alone the gunk that "tastes like bubblegum." Sure it does.
And really...who enjoys the metal pick jamming its way into your teeth and gums?
I thought not.
So, she feels like most of the world does about visits to the dentist.
Sorry, dental team. We really are thankful for you!
And the kids do love all the fun treats that you give them, and that they can play gameboys while they wait for you...and during the cleaning if they're really slick about it!
And I especially love you because you ask ME if they can EACH have a balloon.
NO!!!!
4 kids + 4 balloons in one van = mayhem!
We had a calm ride home...and a stop at BK for a treat!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Babies, Beauties, BBQ, and Bibles

That sums up a lot of what's been happening here!
Jenna loves her new baby doll. It was given to Laura almost 6 years ago, but, Laura has never fancied baby dolls. So, after sitting on a shelf for as long, this baby now has some lovin'!

And our newest beauty...in her shades. Her little nose doesn't quite hold them onto her face, but she's adorable anyway! Now, if we could just get rid of this detestable snow and get some beach weather...she'd be all set.


Yes...after a teaser week of sun and higher-than-frigid-temps which melted nearly every snowflake, we got hit again. But that didn't stop Jamie from grillin' some burgers for us Sunday night.
They tasted soooo good!

And my oldest, who has always been an avid reader, finished reading the Bible (New Living Translation) in one year.
He was very happy, and let out a big sigh..."I did it!"
His favorite books: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Job, & Revelation
(He likes history and battles!)
His least favorite: Leviticus & Numbers
(I concur!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Update on Little Miss Barbara

Things have been pretty busy, to say the least, and I forgot to update you all on the AWESOME news about Little Miss Barbara. Remember HERE I wrote about holding a rummage sale for her family to help them raise the $15,000. needed to bring her home? Well...it has been called off!
A couple days after I wrote that post, I went on to the family's blog. I saw their fundraising meter had been increased over $13,000. YES!!! Over $13,000. in just a few days. And here this family had been praying and praying to come up with the money. Like many families, they didn't have a "rainy day" stash of money of this amount. It needed to be provided. And what a testimony they can now share!
You see, about one year ago, a man Little Barbara's family has never met, lost his young wife and unborn child in a car crash. This man chose to turn this tragedy into a blessing for someone else...namely...little Barbara. He used some of the life insurance money to write a check...to a family he had only heard about...for $13,000. Can you imagine? On top of this, the gal that told him about little Barbara and her family's need, is also adopting and need funds. She could have easily pleaded her own case, but she didn't. People's unselfishness is an amazing thing.
And, another person at church gave this family a check for $1,000., and another friend surprised them with an already-organized fundraiser. They are all set!!! And they are expecting to receive the official referral for little Barbara by the end of this month.
I'm sure any additional funds would help with travel and incidental expenses that will be incurred, but as for that big chunk of money they needed...it has been graciously provided.
Thanking God for His provision and His love for the orphan!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Her Own "Do"

Jenna is often standing beside me as I dry and comb my hair, and she wanted in the act today...independent of me.
What do you think of her first self-style??
Lori, we may need some help here!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Christmas in February?

And who says Christmas has to be in December?
What's a girl to do when she finds the snowman dress-up clothes?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Joy Cometh

This is a quote taken from a Beth Moore study on the "fruits of the spirit." Probably THE best study of the Bible that I've ever done. Part of her point was that we need to find joy in the little things as well as knowing that, as Christians, we will joyfully spend eternity in paradise with our God.
Joy!
I also realize that we tend to be a little...maybe a lot...strict with our kids. That's not particulary a joyful process, though we hope it becomes joyful as they learn the joy of an obedient life. We want our boys to learn chivalry. We want our children to obey authority, to honor God in all their actions, to work to their full potential, to look to God for direction in their lives, to love others with agape (unconditional) love.
Then come those dreaded household rules like no running in the house, chew with your mouth closed, sit up at the table, tidy your toys. Oh, the joy in all of this! Sometimes we feel like dictators.
Then comes little Miss Jenna. The rules for her right now mostly fly out the window. She has enough to learn just coping with a new life. And with this, the rules have relaxed...and here comes the joy.
The joy in hearing our kids happily screaming and squealing as they chase their new sister through the house (Jenna screams the loudest!), the joy in relaxing table manners (after all...who can resist slurping noodles with their adorable sister or noisily slurping tea in the Chinese restaurant...hey...it's authentic!), the joy in watching the boys "argue" about who will help Jenna descend the stairs or buckle her carseat or lift her into the van. The joy of happy squeals as they pelt each other upstairs with socks and dancing to annoying...I mean sweet...children's music as they wiggle their little backsides (thank you for teaching us all this, Amarin)? The joy of hearing Jenna's laugh that sounds like she's hyperventilating. The joy in watching the boys vy for her attention by making silly faces. The joy of watching them all give each other hugs and kisses goodnight...more than they did before because now there's another little one to love on...hence, not getting to bed right on time. The joy of hearing "I love you" spontaneously from Jenna. The joy of looking into their rooms to see all FIVE of our children sleeping peacefully.
Joy. What a blessing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sentences & Apprenticeships

We have another first for Miss Jenna...her first sentence.
I questioned myself...did I hear a whole sentence come out of that little one already?
After only being with us 3 weeks?
But Charlie caught it, too.


I was helping Charlie finish his shower, so of course, he was standing up in the shower/bath tub.
Jenna prances in (the littles just don't comprehend privacy yet!) and
says, "Oh! Sit down, Charlie!"
No joke. It was so funny!
And her first sentence would just have to be a command to one of her big brothers,
wouldn't it? Look out boys...:)


Another cute moment last night after the girls' baths...
I was drying Laura's long hair. Jenna, once again, prances into the bathroom, swinging her head from side to side, flipping with her hands the little bit of hair that has grown over the top of her ears.
She was smiling and saying something in Mandarin...and I could only guess that she was thrilled to be growing long hair.
But, oh, my goodness. Was she really flipping her hair back and forth? Seriously?
Where on earth did she get that?
Finally, Charlie has found himself an apprentice. Yes, I knew he would be in some kind of bossman/in-charge position someday, I just didn't know it would be this soon. I wonder if his apprentice gets paid?

A Rockin' Mama

Thank you for all of the comments that were left concerning attachment and bonding. We heard from other adoptive families, our social worker (& friend), and other friends, all with supportive advice.
This being our 4th adoption, you'd think it would be a cake-walk by now. But each child is so different, comes with a different past, different age, different temperment, and different needs. We're just trying to meet Jenna where she is to be sure she gets what she needs first and foremost, and perhaps what she didn't get before. We'll never know for sure, so we'll play it safe.
And, thank you, Nicole, for sending me to THIS blog.
Though I'm too late to join the Rockin' Mama challenge, I'm doing it on my own with Jenna. It's simply 15 minutes per day of UNINTERRUPTED time snuggling in a rocking chair...being quiet, reading, singing, chatting, smiling, resting....whatever. Just snuggling...Jenna and Mama. Fifteen minutes may not sound like much, but in the course of our busy days, with 5 children and a hubby, it's amazing how the day slips by!
This 15 minutes allows close contact and bonding time for us which is key for her to understand who mama is right now. "Mama" needs to be more than the name she calls me, but the person she goes to for security and comfort. To those who haven't been through it, this can sound like a prideful thing on my part...wanting all of her to myself (& Jamie), but it's a step that needs to happen so she grows to know love in a family. Just like an infant, it has to start with the parents, and then branch out to others. Even though she's four, she needs to go back to those experiences.
Today's rocking went well. She snuggled right in with her blanket and bear, and we rocked for 15 minutes before she went down for her nap. She seemed comfy and content. I was, too.
She is such a joy and truly doing well!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Little Miss Barbara

So, even though my van is full, it doesn't mean my heart is any different.
The orphans are so dear to me, and it's time I find some ways to help others in their journey to bring home children.
We have friends that are bringing home a baby boy from Ethiopia and I was privledged to talk quite a bit with them as they walked through the process.
He will be home very soon and we can't wait to meet him.
We have countless friends and acquaintances that have told me that they are discussing adoption as a family at their dinner table after meeting Jenna.
Who knows if it will lead families to adopt children,
but they're talking about it now.
They've seen first-hand that it's not impossible.
It's right in front of them.
It's possible, and it's a blessing.
We also have friends bringing home their little girl from Russia...
sweet little Barbara.
The Plummer family is working so, so hard to bring her home.
They have done so many, and are still doing, many fundraisers.
They still need almost $15,000. before they can bring their treasure home.
Last year, if you remember, we had an awesome rummage sale, bringing in over $3,000. for Jenna's adoption. This year, we're repeating this rummage sale for the Plummers, and praying it brings in a record amount for them.
What a privledge to witness lives changed, families created, through the miracle of adoption!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lovin' Everyone

And that sounds like a good thing, right? Well, it's not, and I'm interested to hear from those of you who have gone through this with children you have brought home at various ages. The whole idea of "loving" and snuggling with everyone, and sometimes not wanting to go to mama and baba because their not giving her what she wants. We were wondering if it would happen. After all, Jenna has a million dollar smile, and steals hearts in an instant. I think she's used to flashing that smile to, well, manipulate.
I've read lots of adoption articles that talk about this, but haven't really experienced it. Children come home and look to everyone and anyone who will love them, and give them what they want. They know who mama and baba are, but for a while, they're just the names of those adults at home who set the rules. I think we've reached that point.
So, what have you done? How do you set boundaries so that your child knows that mama and baba are where they go for comfort and love and security, and not every "stranger" that they meet? How do you do this without offending all those who want to love her, too?
Do share!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

When the camera comes out...

...the children will pose.
Could my Jenna look anymore girly? I am so giddy about this! Go ahead and play with those action figures and cars. You still are my girly girl!
A friend bought her a little purse and she has been carrying it around constantly. She stuffs everything in it that will fit. And look at that flower in her hair. She's finally loving these accessories. I'll put them in her hair, and she immediately goes to the mirror to look...and smiles. Yep. I have two girly girls. YES!

Jenna met her paternal grandma and papa today.
She took to them just great.
Although, trying to differentiate between the words Papa and Baba (daddy in Chinese) is a bit tough right now.
So, the camera came out to capture these "firsts" with Jenna, and the boys could NOT be left out of the way of the lens. So, the goofy faces started, and chaos ensued. Grandma and Papa must have been exhausted when they went home tonight!
My dear Charlie....my huge, ginormous bucket of energy and dynamo!


This is our lovely "moose," Amarin.
Sorry, Jacob. I'm at a loss for words for this photo. :)
I just hope, for your sake, you don't get stuck that way!
This face was crackin' me up. I've never seen her do this one until her Papa made a funny face at her. After that, this was her response to everyone all night long. What a hoot!


She and Grandma thought it was pretty funny, too!

This little girl is loved more than she knows!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New things...

Today...another day of firsts. I tell ya. These kids that come home to new families, especially from another country, are so resilient. They must be on constant overload. Everything is new...language, smells, the way people look, clothing, food, bed, toothbrushes, weather, their home, routines, jet lag. NOTHING is the same. Not even their name. Their familiar scent is washed away with baby soap. I think if it was me, I'd be curled up in a corner.
Jenna is amazing us with her awesome personality and enthusiasm. She made it through our first attempt since being back, albight a bit feeble, at homeschooling. Jenna sat through the Bible lesson. Can you imagine quietly sitting through one in a foreign language, having no clue what the Bible even is? She thought it was fun to point to all the letters on the ABC chart (in her own random order) with a ruler. She loves to color, trying many hues. She wasn't quite sure what to do with playdough. Legos were played with and number cards held tightly in her hand while she watched me work with Char.
The kids played some more, ate lunch, took rests, and then I decided to take them all outside to play in the crazy amount of snow that fell. So, not having ever seen snow of this magnitude, perhaps not much at all, I bundled Jenna like the Michelin man. The Chinese "clothes police" would be so proud of me! She looked adorable. But I think she's wondering how on earth she's supposed to move.
Seriously...I'm supposed to go out in that? My sentiments exactly, Jenna.

As one may conclude, Jenna was not all about playing in this snow. Her eyes were watering from the cold, and her smile was left somewhere in the house...where it was warm.




Nice try, big brother. Still not diggin' this stuff. (No pun intended!)

How about a sled ride out to get the mail?
Nope.

So, (much to my excitement because I really do NOT like winter), we headed back into the house to bake some cookies.

And she played in water with some kitchen gadgets. No, I'm not making her wash dishes yet!

Mmmmm...she loves cookies. She downed three of them before her brothers even got a chance to eat one!

Here's the crew, enjoying hot chocolate and cookies. Jenna wasn't big on the hot chocolate.

Later, after dinner, she was luring Jacob to chase her through the house. Jacob would "growl" at her with his arms raised, and she would shriek and run in the opposite direction...all while swinging her little bag and puppy. Jacob laughed and said she looked like an "old lady running with her purse."

Charlie got in on the act, too, and they had so much fun with their big brother. These two are funny together...two peas in a pod. God surely knows what he's doing when He places children in a family!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yes, we have no bananas...

We are seeing so, so much of this...

Her smile is simply contagious.
Really, how could it not be?
She loves playing and wrestling with her brothers...

And taking baths with her sister.


But, lest I deceive you into thinking that we are living in fairytale-ish,
post-adoption bliss...
we're not.
I'll keep it real here, folks.
Sometimes I get looks like this.
(Jamie took this and she's glaring right at me).
Because I won't allow her to eat 2 bananas.
Well...you know what happens if you eat too many bananas!
And I just can't find the words to explain this in Chinese.
So for now...I'm the mean mom.
That look, which in turn lead to this...

usually followed by whimpers...then sobbing...then screaming...then some good 'ole foot stompin' fun. Her brothers take off running when this happens...usually before the screaming starts. One...because the girl can break eardrums with her volume, and two...they have to stifle their giggles because they can already predict her actions and think her little fits are hilarious.